Harrogate Car Club launched in July 2020 with Co-wheels as the operator, at the time it was the first all hybrid car club in England. Harrogate Borough Council have committed to spend up to £28,000 supporting the launch of the car club with the aim of helping residents, visitors and businesses to reduce their dependence on private cars. Research has shown that a single car club car can remove 10-15 private vehicles from the road as people dispose of second, third or even fourth vehicles. As a result of this car club members are then more likely to walk, cycle and use public transport leading to more active and healthy lifestyles.
The car club allows members to book a car in advance or with five minutes notice 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. The cars in Harrogate do not need to be returned to a designated parking bay as they have their own designated zone. Each vehicle has a permit to park within that zone.
Members pay for the car by the minutes and for the mileage associated with their trip. There is no need to pay for the fuel as this is covered with a fuel card in each vehicle. Vehicles can be unlocked with the App or with their membership card and all vehicles have keyless ignitions. There is no need to go to a showroom or depot to pick up or drop off the vehicle. There is even a van in the car club, which is available to all members. It has also been found that members of the car club can save up to £3,500.
The launch of the car club was relatively low-key due to the COVID-19 restrictions making it a challenging time to start a sharing scheme.
Once we began to emerge from the restrictions of the initial lockdown in 2020, the car club saw steady growth from an initial 19 bookings in July 2020 to a peak of 87 bookings in October 2020. From this point bookings halved as the country went back into lockdown, increases in tier to level 2 and then a further national lockdown over winter.
Since the restrictions have eased again, the car club has seen a good recovery and had a peak of 102 bookings in June 2021 with 40 active members.
Harrogate Borough Council are working with Co-wheels to assess how the car club performance can be improved and whether some of the vehicles could be relocated to boost their performance and membership.
Initial plans to locate cars in other towns were put on hold due to the pandemic but these are being reassessed with the current, more favourable, conditions, and we plan to expand the scheme soon.
A key piece of advice is to ensure that is widespread publicity and marketing before the launch - this is essential so the local people understand what the scheme is and what the benefits are.
Number of miles and estimated carbon savings from shifting mileage from average cars to low emission vehicles.